Saturday, August 15, 2015

How to Manage Multi-Generational Workforce Effectively

Harnessing the different experiences, perspectives and ideas of people from across multiple generations have enormous potential.

There is poor communication between generations within many organizations, which is a growing problem. The mindsets and priorities of each generation are different. Career development means something different to each group segment, and this becomes problematic when you have a company or organization with culture and values that do not reflect the most contemporary views. Companies that learn how to bridge this gap effectively will have many advantages. You must not stereotype based on a generation. But what are the principles and practices to manage today’s multigenerational workplace effectively?

Mind Shift: Judgment or a closed mindset is one of the biggest challenges of the human race. It's not a skills or education issue rather a mindset across the table that are root causes of many human problems. With the knowledge and the information on how to influence change --change can happen. Different generation groups don't all want the same thing. People's attitudes towards life, people, work, etc., are all influenced by what era they grew up in. Generations grow up with different beliefs and perspectives. The conditions of the economy, the state of the world, technology, and social trends all impact the overall behavior of the generation. A multi-generational team may have some challenges when it comes to agreeing from time to time due to the different generations they grew up in. Once you understand how they develop behaviors, unconscious biases, the role of childhood, early adulthood and early careers you can understand why certain behaviors (often clustered by age/generations) frustrate, annoy, confuse or stress you, you are then able to accurately interpret your observations of others, choose the most appropriate interaction or intervention and participate in the labour force, lead others, engage with people in the community with less stress and with much fewer resources. As employers, you need to recognize these differences or people will not feel "heard." If they are not being valued for being unique or worthy at some level, you will lose them to someone else who does. Perhaps one of the best changes a company can make it provide a space, where learning can go on between people to connect, problem solve and learn. This is what the youth want, more than anything. Once you have a blend of knowledge and wisdom, they can put that into action, where the mentor can observe or get feedback on the experience of the mentee.

Collaboration: Leaders need to stress that they need to have inter-generational collaboration. Getting different generations to work together is part of team building. This is important for any enterprise because their clients and customers will also come from diverse age groups. The main theme in business now is collaboration. Knowledge and experience from different perspectives are powerful if utilized in the right manner. All generations need to realize they can learn from each other, instead of assuming they each know everything they need to know to run a successful business. Collaboration is critical for team building and reaching organizational goals. However, the process must be taught to all members. In inter-generational organizations, the behaviors are so varied; unless they each understand the company's vision, mission, value and buy into them, collaboration and higher performance are usually difficult and challenging. Working together harmoniously by respecting what each brings, ideally, of course, works for the overall goals of the company as well as individuals are crucial for the business's long-term prosperity.

Inclusiveness: Organizations, managers and team leaders that leverage generational diversity will be successful. Those that divide people into groups by age or try to apply a new set of boxes to the ever-diversifying workforce will miss out! The biggest challenge for the team leader or manager is to understand each individual and recognize them for who they are and what they have to offer, and what they bring to the table. The individuals are shaped by so many other factors. Generalization is a slippery slope though multiple studies have shown that generational differences in values and behaviors do exist. For example, the baby boomer generation needs to abandon their command and control approach to management and to make collaboration a priority. Changing your leadership style is not easy but necessary. Or the older generations believe they know best based on past experiences and technologies, so when the younger generations wish to try what could not be done in the past, they are not given the support, even though the technology has gone from a full room of computers to the palm of your hand operation. In fact that different ages and worldviews learn differently and through different media and methods. All groups remain relatively intolerant of the other's way of communicating and learning.  If we are to be successful in the transition we all need to be more open to other's way of accomplishing common purposes. We all need a good dose of "both/and" instead of "either/or" if we are to learn and grow.

Innovation: It is a major advantage when cross-generational and cross-cultural workforce comes to brainstorming for ideas, thoughts, and ways to get creative. Each team player comes from a different background and wants to see the same outcome for their team, the fun part of this all is figuring out how one person gets from point A to point B in comparison to their colleagues. The biggest challenge is understanding what's important to each of those generations, from an employment standpoint, and try to incorporate strategies that will keep each generation engaged. The Millennials are a generation that is concerned about flexibility and social media, so trying to find ways to keep them engaged while offering employment programs that will allow them to learn new things. All four generations have their values to contribute to any organization, and they all have a positive attitude and the organization has a specific value based work culture. The oldest generation contributes to values, experience and practical exposure to all possible situations, and all these attributes can be learned by the other generations gave more opportunities to pass them on. Their personalities are tall, and their skills are unparalleled and they are the foundation and faith of organization. High in patience and low in enthusiasm, as such, the older generations might not be drivers of innovation, but they are the holders of institutional knowledge that can serve as the foundation for innovation. Finding how to keep them all motivated and on a mission is the biggest challenge as they might see each other as antagonistic and simply not on the same page.

Harnessing the different experiences, perspectives and ideas of people from across multiple generations have enormous potential. For instance, there are opportunities for the involvement of all generations in shaping both the employer brand and customer propositions in order to reach a much wider audience. Can your Change Management help achieve such organizational harmony? In order for change to be effective, it must come from the top down and be implemented at that level. Then the leadership at all levels must be expected to follow suit all the way down to the front line employee. The key is to follow through accountability from all levels within the organization, including top management. Clear and effective communication regarding the change with the expectation it will be implemented. All employees respect management when they are consistent and will perform better under those conditions. It's time to harness the strengths of each generation! It starts with respect. Together only we will succeed.


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